Jones believes 2010 hiatus will benefit him

When a player is ruled academically ineligible, a lot of times that can send that player into a spiral from not only physically not being able to get reps, but mentally from not being able to help out the team.

Sophomore linebacker Anthony Jones sees his 2010 campaign as something he can learn from, and admits while it was difficult he still was able to get better even though he couldn't play in the team's games.

"That killed me," Jones pointed out. "That ate me up, but I feel like everything happens for a reason. I got stronger, I got better, I got bigger, and I learned more. So it worked out pretty well.

"The scout team experience was a great thing for me because it helped me work on my technique and stuff, I didn't like being on scout team but I had to do what I had to do."

Jones was not alone in his situation last season as defensive lineman Will Sutton was ruled academically ineligible as well, and while you never want to see multiple players go down for something like that, Jones says it helped having Sutton there with him.

"All my family is in Mississippi still," said Jones, who played his high school ball at Hamilton in Chandler, AZ. "I only have my uncle out here, I moved here my sophomore year of high school so it was really just my family on the team. Will and I were always together."

Now able to work with his teammates on the defense, Jones' athleticism is something that has helped him get through what he considers himself to be an up-and-down camp at times.

"It's been good some days and not so good others," Jones mentioned. "I'm just trying to figure out the small things like staying assignment sound and staying consistent but for the most part I've been pretty consistent I think."

"At the beginning of fall camp he really played well," said Arizona State head coach Dennis Erickson. "Then he kind of level off a little bit and now he's starting to come back. He has a lot of talent and the biggest thing with him is the mental aspect of assignments. But as far as running and god given athletic ability he's as good as anybody we have on our team."

While still working with the second team, Jones figures to see a spike in playing time with the recent injury to starter Brandon Magee, who suffered a torn Achilles tendon last Saturday during the scrimmage. Replacing his on-field production is one thing, but the leadership Magee brings to the table will be much tougher to replace.

After the scrimmage the linebackers were sat down by coach Trent Bray who's message to the team was simple: step up.

"He just told us don't be scared, and move on," Jones remarked. "Brandon was a great leader, we're going to miss him, but we have him on the sidelines, and move on. We can't sit around and cry about it.

"We have a lot of great leaders at linebacker. Colin (Parker) is a leader in the film room, he takes us in there to watch film with us, but we all have each other so we'll be good, we'll all step up. I mean, we're not over it but we know we have to move on because he's not going to be with us this year so it's time for somebody to step up."

Maybe that person is Jones. When asked what he expects of himself this season, the normally talkative Jones was short and direct.

"Play a lot and make plays."

For the sake of a defense looking to replace its biggest leader, we all hope he's as serious as his statement.

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